Originally published in VETERANS TODAY By Richard Edmondson on February 1, 2016
Sometimes I think humans are the stupidest species on the planet. We are the only species that, solely for the sake of profit, endeavor to develop technologies that not only are completely unnecessary for our survival but have a potential risk factor of bringing about our own destruction. This has been going on for much of the last century, and we have amply demonstrated over the same time we will believe any lie told to us provided it comes from a “credible” source.
And one of those “credible” sources is “science.”
I normally am not a science writer, but for the past few days stories about genetically modified mosquitoes have been buzzing around the Internet with regard to Zika, the latest virus that seems to be threatening certain populations in lesser developed areas of the world. Depending upon which source you believe, such mosquitoes are either, a) the solution to the Zika outbreak, or, b) the cause of it.
Let’s examine theory “a” first. The idea that GM mosquitoes (GMM) might rescue the people of Brazil and other countries seems to stem from a January 19 press release put out by Oxitech, a British company that describes itself as “a pioneer in controlling insects that spread disease and damage crops.”
The gist of the press release is that the company will be opening a “mosquito production facility” in the city of Piracicaba, Brazil, the function of which will be to produce “self-limiting mosquitoes whose offspring do not survive.” The male mosquitoes have been genetically altered in such a way that they are incapable, theoretically at any rate, of producing viable offspring. Thus, the GMM’s will be released into the wild, where they will mate with female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, the main vector of the Zika virus, and henceforth they will dramatically reduce the mosquito population.
That’s the theory, at any rate. Fox News, NPR, CBS, The Guardian, Time, CNN and others all went with the story, all plugging the use of GMM’s and suggesting it might be useful in the fight against the Zika virus.
“There is no biological mechanism by which the Oxitec bug’s modified pieces of DNA can transfer into human DNA, or into other mammals and insects,” Ford Vox asserts confidently in an opinion piece at CNN.